What’s the most underrated skill in business?

Fast and loose, slow and steady

Have you ever taken a decision quickly, only to regret it later?

It’s certainly important to make decisions when you run a business. There are some situations where making any decision is better than ‘analysis paralysis’.

However, there are also times where you know what you need to do is be patient and wait for the stars to align in your favour.


Holding out for a hero

An obvious example of slow but sure is hiring a new staff member. When you’ve got a very clear job spec outlining the skills the new hire will need, there’s nothing to do except wait until they come along.

If you’ve ‘just taken anyone’ in the past, you’ll know that this is a really bad option. It might have been ok when you were in startup mode, but now that you’re a fully functioning business, with some ambition, ‘settling’ just won’t do. A new person that can’t do the job just drains your existing time, energy and resources.

Another example is making a decision to set a new higher minimum entry level for new clients. If the decision has been made for the right reasons, once again, there’s nothing to do but wait for the right clients to arrive. If you keep saying ‘yes’ to new prospects who don’t meet your minimum standards, you’ll just keep spinning your wheels and clogging up the system.


Slow to be sure

There’s a less obvious place to exercise patience and to hold out: when you’re unsure about a decision and you don’t have a read on it at all.

The issue here is usually that you don’t have enough information. The first baby step you can take to help you decide is to do more research. Be patient and set yourself a goal to find out more information. Do some Googling, speak to someone who knows more about the subject, and read around.

The new information you uncover will, in all likelihood, get you to a place where you feel comfortable to finally make a decision. You just need to exercise some patience in the first instance.


An underrated virtue

Patience is a highly underrated skill in business. Sometimes doing nothing is the best course of action… but it can be really, really difficult to do.

Holding out for the right new team member, client, or piece of technology, is a discipline that you must eventually master. Just doing it, doing it, doing it all day long only gets you so far.

Holding out is about your standards. Do you have the stamina to set your standards and adhere to them?


Set your standards

Holding out becomes much easier when you are clear on two things:

  1. Recognise that you’re worth it

You need to start taking yourself and your ideas seriously. It’s all too easy to deflect and self-deprecate when asked about your business ideas. Who are you to have such big ideas above your station?

Your ideas are valuable and worth pursuing. If you don’t take them seriously, it’s likely no one else will either.

When you believe that you and your ideas are valuable you will find the stamina and discipline to hold out for whatever it is you need.

  1. Be absolutely clear on where you’re headed

As I’ve written about many times before, you have to be clear on where you are headed as a business. A lack of clarity doesn’t show up as a lack of ideas. Rather it shows up with almost every idea looking like it might be worth pursuing, and that can create chaos.

Business owners are famous for generating lots of new ideas, much to the chagrin of their team.

Only when you know exactly where you are headed can you evaluate an idea effectively to see if it has value. Clarity lets you say ‘no’ to nine out of ten new ideas, so that you can focus your limited time and resources.

When you are clear on your direction of travel, you can hold out for what you need to move forward.

It’s why you must have a fully formed business plan.


Don’t cave in

You know deep down when it’s a bad idea to cave in and just accept ‘near enough’ as good enough.

You can still have doubts and hang tough. You can still feel uneasy and adhere to your standards.


The payback

When you honour your ideas, and hold out for precisely what you need to achieve your new bigger vision, you avoid the hassle, pain and time wastage that comes from accepting something less. It’s the most efficient route to your objective.

Going slow is often the fastest way to achieve your goals. “Measure twice, cut once” as the saying goes.

We’ve all been there; settling for a decision, thinking that finding someone or something that is almost good enough will do; only to find we then spend months, or even years, unwinding that poor decision.

Don’t do it.

Hold out. Hang tough. Be patient.

Let me know how you go.


“Do you have the stamina to set your standards and adhere to them?”


Further Reading:

Get Better, Not Bitter: Small wins and business growth

Do you ever find yourself comparing yourself (unfavourably) to other businesses? Two common mistakes we make as business owners, and why small wins lead to much bigger ones.


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